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ECOWAS Reinforces Capacity of Cybercrime First Responders

The ECOWAS Commission within the framework of the Organised Crime: West African Response on Cybersecurity and fight against Cybercrime” (OCWAR-C) project and in collaboration with the Council of Europe and INTERPOL held an E-Evidence and First Responders Training of Trainers workshop in Praia, Cabo Verde from 25 – 29 July 2022.

The reliance on information communication technology is more pervasive in society, with increased use in personal devices across the region. This has necessitated the need for law enforcement entities to develop the required capacities to ensure efficient investigation and handling of digital evidence is carried out to appropriate standards.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Folake Olagunju Principal Program Officer Internet, Cybersecurity, and E-applications at the ECOWAS Commission on behalf of Mr. Sediko Douka, Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, underscored the significance of having a coordinated and collaborative approach toward a more secure ECOWAS cyberspace. She highlighted the need for participants to share their national perspectives and experiences as this was an opportunity to build bridges and lay the foundation for cooperation with regard to future partnerships. While wishing for the training to be interactive, she ended by emphasizing the need to build human capacities in a consistent and harmonized manner across the region.

The EU deputy head of delegation to Cabo Verde, Mr. Ignacio Sobrino Castello recalled the objectives of the OCWAR-C project, which is to support the strengthening of the cyberspace of the beneficiary countries and capacities in the fight against cybercrime. He spoke on the ongoing developments of the EU in Cabo Verde on cybersecurity and on combatting cybercrime and on Digital Economy in general. He highlighted the need for enhancing cooperation between ECOWAS Member States and the ECOWAS commission and international partners. He ended by encouraging the active participation of all.

On behalf of the Secretary of State for Digital Economy of Cabo Verde, Mr. Joel Almeida, Advisor to the secretary welcomed all participants to Cabo Verde and reaffirmed Cabo Verde’s commitment to playing its part in the region’s cyber ecosystem. He indicated that Cabo Verde’s national cybersecurity strategy contains concrete implementation actions that are in line with the ECOWAS Regional Cyber strategy adopted in 2021. He also stated that the national cybersecurity center and CSIRT-CV are underway. Finally, he commended the organisation of the forthcoming first ECOWAS Regional Hackerlab Challenge scheduled to hold from 10 – 12 October 2022 as a great opportunity to bring the community together to spark interest in the ongoing challenges of keeping our region cybersecurity and as a means of finding young talent who are ready to be next generation of the skillful cybersecurity workforce.

Before the in-person training workshop which consisted of mentoring and understanding the contents and principles of e-evidence collection for first responders, participants partook in a three-week private online course to equip them with the knowledge and skills to design and evaluate learner-centered training following the INTERPOL training standards.

The one-week training programme strengthened the capacity of representatives from law enforcement entities from Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The European Union funds the OCWAR-C project and the objectives are to improve resilience and robustness of information infrastructure in the Member States; increase the capacities of relevant stakeholders of Member States in charge of the fight against cybercrime